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Mohamed bin Zayed, Saudi Foreign Minister discuss latest regional developments and challenges

posted on 02/08/2015

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and visiting Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al Jubeir discussed yesterday in Abu Dhabi ways to enhance bilateral ties for realising the mutual and strategic interests under the vision of the countries' leadership for further strengthening these ties.

The meeting, which took place at Al Shatti Palace and attended by H.H. Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy National Security Advisor, and H.H.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, reviewed a variety of issues of common concern in relation to advancing the GCC joint action in confronting challenges and bolstering stability, security and development in the region.

HH expressed his deep conviction of the central role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, in the region. He also voiced his firm belief in the KSA as a cornerstone which will enable the Arab region overcome the current state of instability.

Sheikh Mohamed said he was proud of the UAE-Saudi partnership for serving the best interest of the two countries and the region alike, emphasising that, 'This is the kind of solidarity which we are always seeking to achieve and aspiring to consolidate.' HH said, 'The Saudi leadership's reading of the developments in the region is the same of ours and we can - through the joint action with Riyadh and other fellow countries - achieve a lot in the area of stability of our states and their development and prosperity.' The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Saudi foreign minister conferred on avenues of coordination and consultation on a number of regional files, the most important of which is the Arab coalition to restore hope and support the legitimate government in Yemen and help it to maintain security and stability in Yemen and confront sabotaging groups which seek to undermine pillars of stability in the region.

The two sides affirmed the importance of achieving success in joint efforts to support the legitimacy in Yemen so as to bring good to the Yemeni people and security and stability to the region. They also exchanged views on the latest regional and international developments, particularly the sensitive files in the region.

Dr. Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and Ali bin Hamaad Al Shamsi, Deputy Secretary-General of the National Security Council, attended the meeting. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Abdullah bin Zayed receives UN Special Envoy for Yemen

posted on 02/08/2015

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, was updated on the latest situation in Yemen during a meeting yesterday with the United Nations (UN) Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Progress of the UN efforts in the country, which receives full support of the Yemeni legitimate government, was also discussed.

Sheikh Abdullah and the UN envoy exchanged views on the latest regional and international developments and reviewed avenues of the humanitarian partnership and methods of co-ordinating relief and developmental activities and programmes in Yemen in a way that serves joint humanitarian aspirations.

HH emphasised the sincere keenness of the UAE's wise leadership to alleviate the suffering of the brotherly people in Yemen, improve their humanitarian conditions and stand by them in these current circumstances.

Sheikh Abdullah underscored that the UAE would spare no effort in extending all possible assistance to ease the repercussions of the current events in Yemen on the Yemeni people through the Saudi-led coalition to support the legitimate government.

The UN Special Envoy said the UAE maintains a good reputation in the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Yemen, indicating that this supportive stance for the Yemeni people was not strange or new to the UAE's leadership. It was a natural extension of the generosity of the late founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

He added that Sheikh Zayed was very generous in extending assistance to Yemen whose people hold the UAE leadership in high esteem and have expressed their gratitude for its continuous assistance to Yemen in difficult times.

Dr. Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and Salim Al Ghafli, UAE Ambassador to Yemen, attended the meeting. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Dealing with racism: UAE sets example, says Arab News

posted on 02/08/2015

Arab News has published an article praising UAE's new anti-hate law, saying that the country has set an example in dealing with the racism.

It further says that the law serves to establish a proper relation between members of society and install civil peace.

Written by Abdulrahman Al Rashed, the article says that in the past, there existed good ethical standards for rejecting discrimination and promoting coexistence at a time when no laws regulated relations amongst people and between societies.

However, communities have changed, expanded, mixed and become complicated. Ethics are no longer sufficient as a control, and customs have stopped deterring people from harming each other or violating others' rights.

In Lebanon, a group has been formed to defend the rights of domestic workers, most of whom are foreigners prevented from socialising with the rest of society. In Egypt, the citizens of Upper Egypt have complained about the media and cinema making fun of them. The situation is more dangerous in the Gulf, with provocation amounting to incitement and blasphemy, and reaching the level of government officials inciting to kill.

The article further states, that modern societies in the world are seeking to develop laws promoting social peace and making the state a home for all. They are developing laws that ensure the protection of the weakest groups. There is no country in the world that has not undergone this difficult transition. Saudi Arabia banned slavery a hundred years after the US banned it in 1866. All societies change; the old and the modern need to develop their regimes to deal with the changes.

Politics has tarnished social relations in the Arab world. When the relationship with the state gets tarnished, hostility is reflected in the same direction, and when it is fixed, the brotherly and friendly language between the state and society is reinstalled. In our society that is crowded with foreigners, when a foreigner kills a local, the language of the media and social networks degenerates, blaming the whole community of the perpetrator, and then it starts to spread hatred, said the Arab News article.

The problem is not only experienced by foreigners; it is a sectarian problem too between Sunni and Shiites, and an ethnic one against the Bedouins. It is a regional problem as well, working against people of certain regions; and disrespecting them has become a cause of discrimination against them. These contemporary diseases persist and spread due to lack of explicit regulations defining responsibilities and establishing guidelines.

"Shiites and Sunnis have been living in the same area for a thousand years. In order to remain living together, the modern state has to enact regulations and laws that grant them equal rights and punish those who violate that right," read the article.

The United Arab Emirates recently introduced the first comprehensive law dealing with racism, hatred and incitement; and this law deserves to be read in detail. The law "criminalises acts associated with the contempt of religious and holy sites, religious discrimination and hate speech using any form of media."

The most severe penalties are against government officials, who face jail terms of 10 years and fines of Dh 500,000 (US$136,127) if they commit during work hours. Those who exploit religion and accuse others of blasphemy will be imprisoned. Penalties might reach the death penalty in cases of murder.

The author says that purpose of this law is not the mere application of sanctions. Rather, it serves to establish a proper relation between members of society and install civil peace. The protection of societies and their rights is not a matter left to the wishes of the people. It cannot be the subject of a referendum. Even in democracies, the opinion of the majority regarding this issue does not matter.

However, the article says, it should be expressly stated in a constitution, and the international community should hold accountable any government that does not adhere to these values. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE condemns murder of Palestinian child

posted on 02/08/2015

The United Arab Emirates has condemned in the strongest possible terms the reprehensible terrorist criminal act in the West Bank in which the young Palestinian child, Ali Dawabsha, was burned to death, saying that the act was a crime that had caused feelings of revulsion around the world.

In a statement to the Emirates News Agency, WAM, the UAE Foreign Minister, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said: "This crime is a dangerous escalation of the terrorist acts being carried out by the Israeli colonists on the West Bank against the Palestinian people, their land and their places of worship, under the protection of the Israeli occupation forces. It is absolutely essential that the necessary pressure is placed on Israel to respond to the crimes of the colonists in a very serious way ."

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah called on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities in this matter, in order to ensure that Israel does not feel that it is insulated from and is above international humanitarian laws and conventions and that it can continue its terrorist actions unpunished.

"The racialism and hatred that has been demonstrated in this crime against an innocent infant and his family is the natural outcome of Israeli terrorist practices and is the outcome of a long series of continuous attacks against unarmed Palestinian civilians," H.H. Sheikh Abdullah said.

"This crime," he added, "is the natural by-product and result of the spread of Israeli colonies in Palestinian territories. It is the result of and a symptom of the brutal racialist culture of the colonists that is directed against the Palestinians, against women, children and unarmed civilians, this being carried out under the protection of, and with silence from, the official Israeli establishment."

"No credibility whatsoever can be accorded to the official condemnations of this act from the Israeli Government," H.H. Sheikh Abdullah said. "The legal framework, the judicial practices and the activities of the Israeli security establishment are the basic components of the racialist system of occupation. It is absolutely essential that the international community should pay serious attention to the need to demonstrate that Israel cannot avoid punishment for such crimes." – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Arab Parliament slams burning of Palestinian infant to death

posted on 02/08/2015

CAIRO: Speaker of the Arab Parliament, Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Jarwan, has condemned in the strongest possible terms the killing of a Palestinian infant when a Palestinian family's residence in Nablus was set ablaze by the Israeli settlers.

Four members of his family were seriously injured in the arson attack.

Jarwan said in a statement yesterday that the burning of the infant to death by the settlers demonstrates the "Israeli brutality", incited by leaders of the occupation to kill Palestinians.

He called for an immediate investigation into a series of arson attacks by the perpetrators against children in the occupied Palestinian territories. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Foreign aid to Jordan hits US$1 billion since January 2015: Report

posted on 02/08/2015

AMMAN: Total foreign aid to Jordan since the beginning of 2015 amounted to US$1 billion, according to planning ministry figures.

The ministry said Saturday that the external grants from donor nations reached US$632.64 million, while the soft loans directed to support the general budget amounted to US$364.84 million and the government-guaranteed soft loans totalled US$72.4 million.

The Saudi Fund for Development along with the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development were the largest donors, as their aid totalled US$256.1million, Jordan News Agency, Petra, said, citing the ministry's report.

The United States supplied Jordan with a wheat grant worth US$25.1 million, while Japan provided US$17.6 million as medical equipment to the health ministry, the figures revealed.

According to the statistics, the EU grants totalled US$66 million and the German Bank for Reconstruction provided US$22.4 million.

Moreover, the soft loans directed to support the Kingdom's general budget reached US$196 million and was provided by Japan while the government-guaranteed loans totalled US$72.4million was provided by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the figures showed.

The ministry also pointed out that the European Investment Bank and the United Nations Development Programme both provided US$11million. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Economic Performance of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi Follow-up Report Q1, 2015

posted on 02/08/2015

Ali Majid Al-Mansouri, Chairman of the Department of Economic Development (DED) Abu Dhabi, has said that the local economy of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has recorded new overall economic growth levels last year registering noticeable improvement in the non-oil sectors performance and showing a real growth of the GDP at 5.8% in the first quarter of 2014.

On the occasion of the issuance of the "Economic Performance of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi Follow-Up Report" by the Economic Development Department of Abu Dhabi, he said that there has been an improvement of performance based on development indicators on macro and sectors levels in several non-oil sectors such as the real estate, banking and tourism sectors.

The First Quarter Economic Performance Report of Abu Dhabi for this year, issued by the Department in cooperation with the National Bureau of Statistics of Abu Dhabi , included the results of the Consumers Trust Index in reference to the economic performance, National Family Conditions Observatory Index, General Index of Confidence in Business Climate and the Business Cycle Performance Indicators, in addition to the inflation in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, accented by a futuristic look upon the Economy of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Ali Majid Al-Masouri clarified that the results of the development indicators during the first quarter (Q1) of this year showed improvements in the levels of trust among consumers and business establishments in reference to the economic situation at the Emirate; these findings were based on positive assessments of the current situation and optimistic expectations of the future.

He added that despite the impact of the oil sector, in reference to the advancements witnessed worldwide in oil markets, and the impact on the Business Cycle Performance Indicators as a result of lowering oil prices, these indicators became reflective of the sturdy economy of the Abu Dhabi Emirate in light of the current and prevailing policies, which have been able to absorb all negative shocks and protect the consumer and the investor from them, particularly in non-oil sectors, while looking into the possibility of converting them into opportunities to empower the economic diversity in the Emirate.

He mentioned that the economic performance of the United Arab Emirates State has been good in non-oil sectors, during the first quarter (Q1) of 2015 according to the report results, and many sector indicators; whereas the overall State economic performance, as is the case with the rest of the oil-exporting countries, was affected by the international oil markets developments.

The Standard and Poor's Agency affirmed that the credit quality classification of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi was "AA+" level, and ruled out any effect of the current oil prices on the development projects that are being carried in Abu Dhabi.

Khalifah Ben Salem Al-Mansouri, Vice-Chairman of the Department of Economic Development (DED), added that the overall results are reflecting a continuity of good economic performance, particularly by the non-oil sectors, based on ascending levels of the General Index of Confidence in Business Climate, Consumers Trust Index and the National Family Conditions Observatory Index.

He also commended this performance despite the impact of the international oil markets developments, over the economy of the Emirate, and many other economies in the area, amid fears that it would impact the oil-exporting countries.

He clarified that the main General Index of Confidence in Business Climate, and its sub-indicators for Q1 2015 portray the optimism of businessmen and investors, and the rise of their trust in the business environment in the Emirate, in comparison with the same first quarter of last year, 2014.

This optimism, he added, has included economic establishments that are working in different activities across the Emirate, since the Main Consumers Trust Index indicators and sub-indicators of Q1 2015, have increased to levels of optimism amidst consumers of different characteristics, demographics and social backgrounds, denoted by their positive assessments of the current situation and their optimism towards the future.

The Vice-Chairman said the results of the National Family Conditions Observatory Index, during the above-mentioned Quarter, show that the trends and patterns of consumption among most national families have not been affected by the rise in prices, in addition to the retreat in the number of borrowers from national heads of households, as a reflection of success of efforts to rationalise consumer behaviour and borrowing.

On the contrary to all other indicators, he continued, as expected, the Business Cycle Performance Indicator reflects the impact of turbulences in international oil markets on the Emirate oil sector economy during Q1 2015, vividly seen in this report, and the detailed development indicators results of Abu Dhabi Emirate for Q1 2015.

He mentioned that the National Bureau of Statistics of Abu Dhabi estimates show that the GDP of the Emirate registered real growth at an annual average of 5.8% (Q1 2014) in comparison to 3.1% (Q1 2013) and 5.4% (Q4 2013).

Adding, that the average annual growth of the non-oil activities added values rose noticeably in the above-mentioned quarter reaching 12.7% in comparison to 2.6% in the same quarter of 2013, while oil activities added values retreated by -0.3% (Q1 2014) due to a decrease in oil prices and some retreat in the produced quantities.

Khalifah Al-Mansouri pointed out the steady rise in the average non-oil GDP growth, given efforts to diversify the local economy structure in the Emirates; so that the relative participation of the non-oil sector in the GDP of the Abu Dhabi rose to 50.4% (Q1 2014) versus 49.6% for the oil-sector.

He elaborated on the huge opportunity before Abu Dhabi given the features it enjoys, to take advantage of the international oil markets situation, and empower the performance of non-oil sectors to anchor economic diversity and compensate the losses due to decreased oil prices, on the short term, and to achieve the economic vision of Abu Dhabi 2003 on the long term.

He also pointed out that the Report shows improvements in the performance indicators of several non-oil sectors, within the Abu Dhabi economies (2015).

Rashed Ali Al-Za'abi, the Deputy Executive Director of the Planning and Statistics Sector, at the Department said, that the sector indicators (Q1 2015) reflect a strong economy of Abu Dhabi, and its ability to absorb the fears related to international oil markets developments, and adapt to these emerging changes.

He said the tourism sector shows recent data issued by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority that reflect improved sector performance (Q1 2015), as the number of hotel guests increased by 20% (Q1 2015) in comparison to Q1 2014, and reached more than one million guests.

He added the number of hotel room-nights in Abu Dhabi increased by 11% to about 2.9 million room-nights, hence a rise in the gross income of the hospitality establishments by about 14% reaching 1.8 billion Dirhams (Q1 2015). Occupancy reached 79% (Q1 2015) at no real change from Q1 2014.

The real estate sector, Al-Za'abi added, which was also monitored by the Report, showed a rise in rentals of housing estates by 4% (Q1 2015) in comparison to Q1 2014, with some retreat registered by Q4 2014.

This comes at a time the market is witnessing an increase in the supply, where housing units in the Emirate reached about 244,000 units (Q1 2015) hence reflecting a strong demand for housing units.

He added, that the office units rentals were more steady (Q1 2015), despite differences within these units, as some were "Class A" whose rentals increased, and "Class B" whose rentals were more steady, so was the case for retail stores that were also steady despite the increase in shop rentals outside the Island of Abu Dhabi.

Rashed Al-Za'abi mentioned that the overall market performance reflects stability despite the real estate units supply, on the one hand, and the increase in demand over all types of units, on the other hand. A corrective action was detected in rentals, which is expected to lead to market stability and sustainability in the sector performance on the medium term.

As for Abu Dhabi external trade of non-oil goods, Za'abi said that according to the published data, the gross amount of non-oil goods value reached 13.7 billion Dirhams (February 2015), registering a 16.8% increase compared to February of the year before.

This resulted from the rise in imports by 18.1% reaching Dh 9.8 billion, and exports by 18.8% reaching Dh 1.4 billion, he added.

He continued: "We notice a retreat in the gross value of foreign trade (Feb. 2015) compared to last year (Jan. 2014), due to the retreat in non-oil commodities that are re-exported, and decrease in imports of non-oil foreign trade (Jan. 2015) compared to same month the year before". The contributions of non-oil commodities exports from the gross foreign trade amount reached 18.2% (Feb. 2015).

One of the most important banking and financial developments, as Rashed Al-Za'abi, the Deputy Executive Director of the Planning and Statistics Sector at the Department said, was the good performance of the banking sector (Q1 2014) as the aggregate profits of Abu Dhabi's five listed banks in the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange were 5.2 billion Dirhams (Q1 2015) at an increase of about 8.6% in comparison with those in the same quarter of 2014.

He pointed out that citizens own most of the shares in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, so their owned shares by the end of March 2015 were 83% versus 17% to non-citizens.

According to the Economic Performance Report, the working banks assets grew by 9.1% (Q1 2015) compared to Q1 2014, reaching 2.38 trillion Dirhams (Mar. 2015), while the total solvency capital percentage stabilised in Q1 2015, and equated that of Q4 2014 at 18.2%.

It's worthwhile saying that the percentage is above the limits set by the Central Bank, hence reiterating the ability of working banks in Abu Dhabi to bear the burden of building additional allocations to meet the development in loans and lending, granted by these banks.

The total customers' deposits (residents and non-residents) at the working banks in the State rose by 8.8% (Q1 2015) reaching 1.45 trillion Dirhams, in comparison with 1.33 trillion Dirhams (Q1 2014).

There was an increase in the size of Certificates of Deposits at the Central Bank, coupled with the rise in liquidity in the market (Q1 2015) that reached 111.7 billion Dirhams (Mar. 2015) versus 99.5 billion Dirhams (Dec. 2014), at a retreat of about 6.2% on annual basis.

The General Financial Indicator of Abu Dhabi market ended with a retreat (Q1 2015) as a result of the retreat of some vital sectors like energy, real estate, and banks. The indicator decreased by 1.35% versus loss at 11.31% (Q4 2014), losing 61 points on the Index, closing the market at 4467.93 points (Mar. 2015).

This has been attributed to many reasons that led to the retreat of the financial market / Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, namely the successive decline in oil prices since the beginning of the second half of 2014, where the price of the crude (Miban) oil declined from 111.65 US$/Barrel (Jun. 2014) to its lowest level of 46.40 US$/Barrel (Jan. 2015), that had not been witnessed (i.e. lowest level) since March 2009, at the time of the world economic crisis, when numerous companies delayed declarations of their financial status.

The services sector comes in the first place, in terms of citizens' shares ownership, at 97.5%, followed by the insurance sector at 96.1% and then the consumers' goods sector at 89.7%. However, data is showing the increasing interests among non-nationals (expatriates) to investment and buy shares in the electronic fund, debt tools, and energy at 52.1%, 35.8% and 32.9% respectively.

As per issued data from the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, the most buy-sell shares operations were performed by citizens, reaching 55.19% and 54.48% respectively, as for non-citizens, the percentages were 44.81% and 45.52% respectively.

Individuals led the way with the largest volume of trading (Q1 2015) reaching 3,974,325,684 in buying shares at 71.3% of the gross total of the buying transactions and 4,103,683,049 in selling shares at 73.6% of the gross total of selling transactions. The remaining percentages corresponded to total companies trading of 28.7% and 26.4% respectively.

The Report covered the Consumers Trust Index in the UAE. It is part of Nielsen's Consumer Confidence Index (CCI), so that the confidence of the consumer in the State was noticeably higher (Q4 2014) at 114 points compared to 112 points (Q3 2014).

The consumers in the UAE were found to be more trusting and optimistic, at the end of 2014 on the level of the Middle East Countries, covered by the Nielsen's Consumer Confidence Index (CCI), hence reflecting the continuity of the trust of consumers in the economic status in the State, despite recent international oil markets development, and retreat in oil prices during the second half of 2014.

The United Arab Emirates ranked the first among Arab Countries, and ranked in the 20th position internationally on the Happiness Index (2015) issued by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). The Index covers 158 country and is based on a group of main and sub-indicators related to the quality of health, the individual's share of the GDP, social support and trust (extent of corruption decline among public institutions and the business sector), in addition to the individuals' freedoms.

The International Monitory Fund (IMF) estimated the average economic growth of the Emirates at 3.6% (2014), and expects 3.2% in 2015, among the highest in the area.

Most recent published data by the National Bureau of Statistics of Abu Dhabi show that the gross total of the foreign trade of non-oil goods, of the UAE was 524.8 Billion Dirhams, during the first half of 2014. The imports amounted to 64.8% of the gross (above-mentioned) amount, and exports of non-oil commodities amounted 12.1%, and the re-exported stood at 23.1%.

Financially, the IMF expects a retreat from 12.1% of the GDP of the surplus of current balance, in the UAE in 2014 to about 5.3% in 2015, due to the decline in the international oil prices.

The records of the Ministry of Finance show that the actual performance of the budget over the first nine months of 2014 realised a surplus of 4.1 billion Dirhams amounting to 10.4% of the gross revenue during that period.

For banking and financial developments, and as per the figures of the Central Bank of the UAE, the monetary supply (N3), in the broad scene was 1377.2 billion Dirhams, end of March 2015, reflecting a rise of 1.2% over end of February 2015 figures of 1361.3 billion Dirhams. The gross bank deposit totalled 1.3%, end of March 2015, in comparison to February figures, hence reaching 1449.3 billion Dirhams. Meanwhile the total bank credit rose to 1410.2 billion Dirhams, end of March, at 1.2% compared to February. In local markets, and as per the data of the Abu Dhabi Securities & Commodities Authorities, the shares price index registered 4476.9 points, end of March, retreating by 2.3% compared to December 2014.

The IMF is expecting a retreat in the average inflation, on the general prices level, to about 2.1% (2015) compared to 2.3% (2014), where it registered record consumer prices in the State at about 124.7 points (Mar. 2015) as per the Consumer Price Index in the UAE Report, issued by the National Bureau of Statistics of Abu Dhabi.

This lead to an increase in the average annual inflation on State level, registering about 4.3% (Mar. 2015), so that the average inflation rate rose to about 3.9%, on average (Q1 2015). Observers are expecting a retreat in the average of inflation, amidst corrective measures on the level of real estate rentals. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE, US non-oil trade stood at US$ 24 billion in 2014

posted on 02/08/2015

The UAE Ministry of Economy (MoE) and the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce have discussed ways to enhance trade and investment cooperation.

This came during a meeting between Juma Mohammed Al Kit, Assistant Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Economy for Foreign Trade and Amin G. Salam, Vice President of International Business Development at the National U.S. Arab Chamber of Commerce in the presence of a number of senior officials.

The discussions tackled ways to boost cooperation in organising conferences and trade conventions, exchanging studies and promoting international events organised by the ministry through the National U.S. Arab Chamber of Commerce, like the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) and the Global Trade Development Week.

The two sides also discussed areas of cooperation with regard to Small and medium-sized companies as the chamber hosts more than 25,000 companies of its members.

Al Kit underscored the important role played by the National U.S. Arab Chamber of Commerce to bolster trade and investment ties between the US and the Arab world which have witnessed a notable development in the past period. He also pointed out the importance of utilising cooperation mechanisms between the Ministry of Economy and the Chamber to provide services to the business sector in the UAE and the USA as the US is the third-largest trade partner of the UAE with non-oil trade exchange amounted to more than US$ 24 billion in 2014.

He also reviewed the most important economic development witnessed by the UAE as well as the government's efforts exerted to enhance the country's economic stature regionally and internationally.

On his part, Salam thanked the Ministry of Economy for its efforts to support cooperation with all international trade institutions. He also praised the vital role played by the trade office at the UAE Embassy in Washington to boost bilateral trade and investment ties, especially with private sector institutions such as the National U.S. Arab Chamber of Commerce.

The UAE is one of the most important markets for the US in the Middle East and North Africa, where more than 1000 US companies are operating in the UAE in various fields.

At the end of the meeting, the two sides expressed their desire to enhance cooperation and communication in various other fields to serve private sector in the UAE and the USA. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Mohammed bin Rashid inspects number of facilities at Dubai International Airport

posted on 02/08/2015

Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, yesterday inspected a number of facilities at the Dubai International Airport, where he was had first assessment about the smooth movement of passengers through this vital and international gateway.

Sheikh Mohammed, along with H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of the Emirates Group and President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), toured the terminal three which is designated for the first, second and business classes.

He also inspected the Emirates Airline counters, about 50 of them, including passport section, and first and second class counters.

Sheikh Mohammed and the delegation accompanying him took the monorail from terminal three to the Emirates' Airbus A380 Concourse three, the world's first dedicated facility at the Dubai International Airport that is home to Airliner's growing fleet of super jumbos. He was briefed about the quality of world-class services and facilities as well as comfort and good treatment provided by the airport authorities to inbound and outbound travellers using the Dubai Airport, one of the world's busiest airports.

Sheikh Ahmed briefed Sheikh Mohammed that the passenger traffic soared by 15 percent in July compared to the corresponding period last year. He expected that the number of travellers will reach 80 million by the end of this year, given Dubai being a favourite world's destination driven by the-state-of-art-premises, unparalleled services and facilities.

On his part, Sheikh Mohammed expressed his satisfaction about procedures at the airport and continuous updating of services and facilities for travellers, a move that he said, has earned for the country a good international reputation.

Commending the services enjoyed by travellers on board Emirates Airline planes, he noted, "Our planes carry along with them the messages of love and peace from our people to people from other parts of the world to bring cultures closer."

Sheikh Mohammed was also accompanied during the tour by Khalifa Saeed Suleiman, Director-General of Protocols and Hospitality Department in Dubai, Eng. Khalifa Al Zafeen, CEO of Dubai Airports, Major General Obaid Mohair, Deputy Director-General of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs in Dubai and others. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Abu Dhabi International Airport passes 2 millionth passenger mark for the first time in a single month

posted on 02/08/2015

Abu Dhabi International Airport on Friday night welcomed the 2 millionth passenger, achieved a milestone for the first time in a single month and marking a new era in the airport's journey.

The passenger, Saeed Ali Al Suraidi, who arrived from Cairo on Etihad Airways, was warmly welcomed by Ahmad Al Haddabi, Chief Operations Officer at Abu Dhabi Airports.

The delighted passenger was presented with a commemorative gift from Abu Dhabi Airports and a voucher to enjoy the airport's unique retail experience at Abu Dhabi Duty Free.

Commenting on the event, Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Chief Executive Officer at Abu Dhabi Airports, said, "This has been a remarkable month for Abu Dhabi International Airport. More and more travellers are choosing Abu Dhabi as a final destination or transit point and this is supported by the increased flight connectivity available at the Capital's airport. We are investing considerable efforts and resources in ensuring that the passenger experience at Abu Dhabi International Airport is always of the highest quality by increasing capacity and offering a broader range of services."

He added, "This milestone is a significant one for the airport and for the different teams that work hard to deliver seamless service to the millions of passengers who travel through our airports." – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Awareness campaign combating trafficking of ivory begins at Abu Dhabi International Airport

posted on 02/08/2015

An awareness campaign to combat trafficking of ivory was launched yesterday at Abu Dhabi International Airport's transit area, which is expected to reach to more than 300,000 passengers during its run until 13th of August.

Transit passengers will learn that smuggling ivory could lead to prosecution under an awareness campaigned of the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW), Abu Dhabi International Airport Custom - the General Directorate of Customs, Abu Dhabi Airports and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

In addition, a collection of confiscated ivory items will be displayed to educate the passengers about ivory trade and encourage them to reject wildlife products. 6 volunteers from Abu Dhabi, employees from MoEW and IFAW will participate in the campaign will spread messages, interact with passengers, raise awareness and collect data for evaluation purpose.

Poaching is spreading primarily as a result of a rising demand for illegal ivory in the rapidly growing economies of Far East countries. Ivory has soared in value as an investment vehicle and is coveted as "white gold".

Aisha Al-Abdouli, Director of Awareness and Education Department at the Ministry of Environment and Water, said, "The Ministry is keen to launch a purposeful awareness campaigns to increase education on biodiversity, including the habitat of indigenous species and protected areas. This comes within the framework of the implementation of the national strategy to raise public environmental awareness and education, which has been certified this year and serve the strategic objective of strengthening the community's commitment to achieve sustainability and preserve the environment. Throughout the campaign, samples of ivory that were confiscated previously will be displayed to educate travellers about the importance of wildlife and the risks the elephants are facing. In addition, educational leaflets prepared by the Ministry in cooperation with the IFAW will be distributed." – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


RTA Dubai unveils 10 pedestrian bridges for 2016, 2017

posted on 02/08/2015

The Board of Executive Directors of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), chaired by Mattar Al Tayer, has endorsed the construction of 10 pedestrian bridges in 2016 and 2017 situated in a number of vital locations in Dubai.

The step will bring the total number of pedestrian bridges in Dubai to 120 bridges by 2017.

Al Tayer said, "Since inception, the RTA has attached considerable attention to the provision of safe pedestrian crossings, and set a number of perimeters upon which the locations of pedestrian bridges are selected; such as spots witnessing high proportion of run-over accidents (Black Points), intensity of traffic movement, movement of people between the two sides of the road, the distance to the nearest pedestrian crossing, location of bus stops, availability of malls as well as public and private organisations, and the observations raised by the General HQ of the Dubai Police, and the public."

He added that the new bridges will be constructed in a number of vital locations based on the findings of traffic studies. Two bridges will be constructed on Baniyas Road; the first near the Department of Land & Properties, and the second near the Dubai Municipality.

One bridge will be constructed on Khaled bin Al Waleed Road nearby Al Riffaa-Al Saadiyaat Road, in addition to a bridge nearby Al Tawar Center, bridge on Al Ittihad Road nearby Dnata, a bridge on the Arabian Ranches Road (Road 323), a bridge on Al Mankhool Road, a bridge on Latifa bint Hamdan Road nearby Al Khail Mall Road, a bridge near Bal Remaitha Club, and a bridge on the Dubai – Al Ain Road nearby Skycourts Buildings.

The RTA is currently constructing seven pedestrian bridges as follows: two at Baghdad Road, and one bridge at each of: Al Maktoum Road, Al Mina Road, Amman Road, Baniyas Road, and Al Rasheed Road.

The completion rate has reached more than 30 per cent in these bridges, and the project is expected to be completed during the first quarter of next year.

"Over the past two years the RTA constructed 22 footbridges in a number of vital locations including two bridges at Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road (one near the Fruits & Vegetables Market, and the other near workers complex at Al Qusais), three bridges at Umm Suqeim, two bridges at each of Al Asayel Road and the First Al Khail Road, and one bridge at each of Sheikh Rashid Road, Al Saada Road, Al Mina Road, Al Wuhaida Road, Amman Road, Al Rasheed Road, Al Mankhool Road, Latifa bint Hamdan Road, Abu Baker Al Siddique Road, Al Khaleej Road, Al Ribat Road, and the JLT," explained Al Tayer.

The number of pedestrian bridges in Dubai has soared from 14 bridges in 2006, and continued to grow to 56 in 2010, jumped to 74 in 2011 and continued the upswing to reach 100 bridges by the end of 2014, and the number is set to rise further to 120 by 2017.

"These bridges contributed to recording the lowest rate of pedestrian fatalities on Dubai roads over 20 years. "Statistics indicate pedestrian fatalities dropped from 9.5 fatalities per 100 thousand of population in 2007 to 7 fatalities per 100 thousand of population in 2008, and continued the downturn to reach 2.3 fatalities per 100 thousand of population in 2010, and dipped further in 2014 to its lowest rate of one fatality per 100 thousand of population," added Al Tayer. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


DEWA achieves remarkable progress in water transmission networks in various areas of Dubai

posted on 02/08/2015

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) said yesterday that it has achieved significant progress in supplying, extending and launching major water transmission networks with a total length of 25km across various areas in Dubai.

This is in line with Dubai Plan 2021, which sets a roadmap of growth through ambitious development initiatives that integrate economic development, sustainability and building a reliable infrastructure that can meet various requirements.

"Led by its vision to become a sustainable innovative world-class utility, DEWA is providing the best services and adopts the latest international practices to achieve the highest satisfaction and happiness of people. Through this project, DEWA aims to raise the efficiency of production and operations, and increase water flow to meet the growing demand for water in various areas of Dubai and support the sustainable development of the Emirate," said Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD and CEO of DEWA.

"The project includes the extension of glass reinforced (GRE) main water pipelines of different diameters, in addition to remote monitoring and control systems. Over 33 per cent of the total length at over 8.3 km has been accomplished already. The total cost of the project is Dh 170 million. The project also includes 17 sites for connections between major transmission lines to increase the quantity of water flow and to ensure the continuity of water supply to support current and future projects, thus enhancing efficiency," he added.

"The project implementation has commenced in accordance with the planned schedule and we expect to finish it by January 2016," concluded Al Tayer. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


New radio broadcasting service launched to cover latest UAE, international news

posted on 02/08/2015

Sky News Arabia has announced the launch of its radio broadcasting service in the UAE via 90.3 FM as of July 30.

The move is in line with the network's vision to emerge as an integrated news platform that offers accurate and unbiased reporting through television, radio, digital applications and social media.

Through this new service, Sky News Arabia looks to cut across channels and media outlets in a bid to reach diverse audience segments that use varied media platforms to get the latest news.

Commenting on this development, Nart Bouran, Head of Sky News Arabia, said: "The move towards radio broadcasting is a logical and inevitable one for any regional network today that seeks to enrich its audience in UAE with a new media platform.

"Our audience will receive comprehensive news bulletins 24/7 that cover a gamut of Arab and international news developments in real time.

"This coverage will include news focused on politics, economy, sports as well as art and culture.”

He added: "This decision complements our aspiration to transform the network into an integrated media platform that provides news from diverse sources as part of its commitment to the motto ‘Now and From Everywhere'. In addition to offering high quality media content through television, website, mobile applications, social media platforms and radio newscasts via some radio stations in Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Iraq, and Lebanon, the live and continuous radio broadcast service from the UAE will enable radio listeners in the country to get the latest news wherever it breaks.”

According to IPSOS MediaCT, 67 per cent of Arab radio listeners tuned in to radio stations in the UAE in 2015. The country is also one of the fastest growing markets for radio broadcasting.

According to statistics published in a section of the local media in 2014, this growth may be attributed to the UAE's residents spending considerable periods of time on the road driving their cars or stuck in traffic.

Motorists spend an average of three to four hours daily driving in the UAE compared to 15 minutes in other countries in the region, making radio one of the most preferred media platforms in the country.

Sky News Arabia has earlier launched radio broadcasting services in several Arab countries including Iraq, Palestine, and Lebanon.

The service has received high uptake from radio listeners and followers in these countries. – The Gulf Today -


Khor Fakkan fountain developed and reopened

posted on 02/08/2015

The water fountain at Khor Fakkan has undergone development works costing Dh500,000, the Directorate of Public Works in Sharjah revealed. The fountain was switched back on coinciding with celebrations of the emirate as the ‘Capital of Arab Tourism'.

The fountain now has a diameter of 30 metres, and 55 nozzles for scattering water distributed along four rings. The central fountain nozzle is capable of spouting water at a height of six metres.

Ali Bin Shahin Al Suaidi, director of the directorate, said the area where the fountain is situated is notable in terms of beauty and location. "It acts as the centre of many lively areas and roads in the city,” he said. "It is our role as a department to maintain and preserve these heritage sites and government facilities, especially coinciding with Sharjah being the ‘Capital of Arab Tourism' this year.”

Al Suaidi said the development and modernisation of the fountain was finished in record time.

Bashaer Mansouri, director of the Khor Fakkan branch of the directorate, said development of the fountain included installation of main electrical units; distribution and installation of cables and circuit breakers; replacement of pumps, piping and nozzles scattering water; in addition to aesthetic developments. – Gulf News -


88m gallons of rainwater collected

posted on 02/08/2015

An estimated 400,000 cubic metres of rainwater, equivalent to 88 million gallons, was collected in the Central Region's dams after heavy rains, known as Al Rawayeh rains, on July 27, the Ministry of Environment and Water revealed.

Eng Mariam Mohammad Saeed Hareb, acting assistant undersecretary for water resources and nature conservation at the ministry, said: "The valleys of Al Shawka, Al Qassaa and Al Kashish witnessed heavy rain, especially the basin of Al Shawka valley which led to water levels of the dam lake reaching 275,000 cubic metres. An estimated 1.5 million cubic metres of water flowed from the spillway of the dam for two and a half hours.”

Hareb added the amount of water that has been harvested in the barrier of Al Shawka dam amounted to 10,000 cubic metres, reaching 3 metres high, Al Kashish reached 105,000 cubic metres and 3 metres high, and Al Qassaa dam reached 10,000 cubic metres and 1 metre high.

Mariam also noted that the ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Works, has completed the maintenance work and raised efficiency standards to calm the flow behind Al Shawka dam spillway, in line with the implementation of its operational plan for 2014-2016.

The ministry's consultants and dam experts inspect Al Shawka dam and facilities according to established requirements regarding technical standards for the management and control of dams, along with the best international practices of leading countries that feature am efficient dam system immune from flooding damage. – Gulf News -


Theme park industry in UAE, GCC set for a good ride

posted on 02/08/2015

Theme parks in the UAE and GCC have an edge over their counterparts across the globe since they have adopted the latest technology and are far more innovative and creative.

Theme parks are pegged to contribute more than Dh5 billion to the Dubai economy by 2020. This is good news for amusement park operators.

Lennard Otto, general manager of IMG Worlds of Adventure, said: "Looking at Dubai, the opportunity is clear. One third of the world's population is within four hours' flying time, and two thirds within eight hours. The theme park industry is the next piece of the puzzle for delivering an all-round experience for residents and tourists alike. We are the first movers in this space."

Abdul Rahman Falaknaz, chairman of International Expo Consults (IEC), organisers of the Deal 2016 show, said that recent developments in the region, related to entertainment and leisure, are very encouraging. "Entertainment and leisure projects within the UAE and across the GCC have boosted the confidence of the industry manifold. The growth of projects has spurred the organisation of events such as Deal within this region, bringing the industry experts and stakeholders together. Deal 2016 is set to don the mantle of the entertainment launchpad for amusement park operators in the Middle East," said Falaknaz.

On the other hand, the GCC is set to witness a boom in tourism as new projects are being planned. One of the examples includes a project in Saudi Arabia - KidzMondo Theme Park. The first branch is anticipated to begin operations in Riyadh in the first quarter of 2017, before spreading out to other major cities in the country. The KidzMondo project in Saudi Arabia entails an investment of $133 million.

Another $120 million project, Majarat Oman, to be built across 25,000sqm at Al Sawadi Beach Resort, will cater to 2,500 to 3,000 visitors a day when it begins operations.

"Indoor theme parks minimise seasonality, which allows the business to operate at its maximum levels throughout the year. This is largely because we can control that crucial factor which outdoor sites can't - the climate. If you look at the major groupings of outdoor theme parks, they tend to be located in locations that offer a temperature that is moderate - this is why the indoor park has an edge in this region," added Otto.

"Various destinations are being poised as leisure and entertainment hubs ahead of global mega events, particularly the World Expo 2020 in the UAE and the Fifa World Cup 2022 in Qatar," added Sharif Rahman, CEO, IEC. – Khaleej Times -